Readers' Favorite

July 15, 2020

Fantastic July Fiction

by Susan Roberts

There are some fantastic books publishing in July - here are a few that you don't want to miss.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale

Side Trip
July 2020; Lake Union; 978-1542016964
audio, ebook, print (333 pages); women's fiction
"Joy shouldn't have agreed to Dylan's deal.  She should have let him say goodbye, because goodbye would have been much easier than the crushing despair she feels right now.   She wouldn't be left wondering what might happen between them or what would happen down the road.  What didn't happen today.  Things she shouldn't be wondering about."
(loc 193)

An unforgettable and breathtaking novel of love, loss, and the unexpected routes that life takes.

WOW!!  Kerry Lonsdale has done it again -- given her readers a fantastic story with realistic characters that keep you turning pages to the end. I have read every word that this author has published and she has become one of the few authors that I will buy her books without knowing anything about them because I know that they'll be fantastic.

Joy is driving from California to New York City to start a new job and move in with her fiancĂ©. She is traveling on Route 66 holding on to her deceased sister's bucket list as she tries to experience all of the adventures that her sister wanted to do but never had a chance before she died. In Arizona, she meets Dylan who is also headed to NYC but with his car broken down at a greasy spoon restaurant and he isn't sure how he'll get there. He is a musician and has several stops to make along the way to perform at various bars.  They make a deal. She’ll drive him to New York and he’ll pay for gas. Only three rules apply: no exchanging of last names; what happens on the road, stays on the road; and if one of them wants to take a side trip, they both must agree.

And so the adventure begins between two totally different people with totally different outlooks on life and love. Her first side trip is a stop at the Grand Canyon to take pictures and his first side trip is bungee jumping from a bridge. After 10 days on the road getting to know each other, they say goodbye at the airport in NYC. He heads to Europe and she joins her fiancé but can they go back to the lives after the time they've spent together. The novel covers the next 10 years of their lives and their memories of each other and asking themselves 'what if' things had ended differently.

Side Trip is full of romance and music and suspense.  It asks whether planning out your life and adhering strictly to your plans is the way to find happiness?  Or does life need some spontaneity to be happy?

Buy Side Trip at Amazon
(free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

Other Books by Kerry Lonsdale

Last Summer - read my review.
All The Breaking Waves - read my review.
The Everything Trilogy - read my review.

A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber

A Walk Along the Beach
July 2020; Ballantine Books; 978-0399181368
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); women's fiction
"Walking along the beach had always had the power to help me clear my mind and soothe my soul.  Breathing in the briny scent of the wind, I held it in my lungs, comforted by the familiar small and taste of it.  A wave crashed against the shore, wiping out my footprints.  The ebb and flow of change, of letting go, of moving forward and seeing everything wiped away like that single wave beating against the sand." 
(loc 3080)

Debbie Macomber is one of those authors who writes books that you know you are going to love before you even start reading.  She always has wonderful, real characters to connect with and a plot that will keep you reading. Her books have a few laughs and a few tears;  a little romance and a lot of positive changes in the characters. A Walk Along the Beach is way more than the simple romances that she used to write - this one definitely fits in the Women's/Family Fiction category.

Willa's mother died when she was 13 and she had to become the mother to Lucas and Harper. She cooked and cleaned and tried to protect her siblings. Their father coped with his grief with alcohol so he wasn't helpful to the family at all.  Now they are all grown up and Willa owns a coffee shop, Harper teaches yoga and Lucas lives with his wife. (Note - Lucas isn't a major part of the storyline which mostly concentrates on the two sisters.)  Willa and Harper share an apartment and are each other's best friend but are completely opposite - Willa is quiet and reserved while Harper is outgoing, happy, and always looking for fun.  Due to the cancer that Harper survived in her teens, Willa continues to try to be overprotective which results in some tension between them. Willa meets Sean at her coffee shop and soon they are dating. He is a free-lance photographer and is often away on photo shoots, not only in the US but in places like South America where it is difficult to find internet or cell phone availability. When Harper begins to get sick again and Willa needs someone to comfort her, Sean is out of the country and not able to communicate with her.  She needs to decide if this is a relationship that she really wants or needs.

Debbie Macomber has brought her readers another wonderful novel with characters who are so well written that they seem like friends - characters that readers will laugh with and cry with and won't soon forget.  The plot is emotional and full of love. The scenery near the beach in Washington State is lovely.  And the bond between the two sisters is incredible. This is a story about family and friendship, heartache and love, illness and happiness, happy tears, and sad tears.

Note:  Be sure to have tissues at hand for the last half of the book - you're going to need them!

Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned by Katherine Snow Smith

Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker
July 2020; She Writes Press; 978-1631528583
ebook, print (176 pages); essays
"This book is an honest account of times when I may have pushed limits or made rash decisions.  The title of each chapter is a rule I broke. I think these essays show that there can still be good outcomes when you don't do what everyone expects you to do.  I'm not advocating for irresponsible decisions or poor choices;  I'm just saying that life is messy for all of us and sometimes you can't play by the rules."
(p ix)

As a Southerner who grew up in the North (but has lived in the South for over 50 years), I missed all the training on Southern rules and I'm sure that I broke a lot of those rules when I first moved here.  The author of this book looks at 22 specific rules of a well-bred Southern woman and writes a humorous essay about how she broke that rule.  Her rules range from  'Always Wear Sensible Shoes' to "Family Secrets aren't Meant to be Shared' and 'Never get a Tattoo."  The entire book is entertaining and some of her essays made me laugh out loud.

I am going to tell you about two of my favorite essays:

"Always Wear Sensible Shoes" - She made the decision to look stylish and wear 4-inch heels that were very uncomfortable to her first media holiday party at the White House.  She could barely walk and was in great pain when she finally got a chance to shake hands with President Obama and his wife.  "Just as we smiled for our big moment, my left foot twisted, my knee gave way, I fell against the 44th President of the United States then headed backward." (p 3).

"Know your Limitations" - one of her best friends talked her into a duathlon - where you run three miles, bike 10 miles, and then run another three miles.  She reluctantly started training for the event and decided to compete even after her friend dropped out.  "A few days later, I told a friend I'd come in last. 'Last for your age group, you mean.' Last for any age group.  Last of the females, last of the males. Last of the humans. Last of the mammals. I saw a little squirrel skirt across that finish line just ahead of me."  (p 17)

Trust me, you don't have to be Southern to enjoy this book. I loved it.

Other July books I'm looking forward to:
The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs   July 7
Fast Girls by Elise Cooper  July 7
What You Wish For by Katherine Center July 14
How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke  July 14
The Pull of Stars by Emma Donoghue   July 21
The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek  July 21
Do you have any other suggestions for July Books?

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. i have been reading debbie's books for a long time. i have always enjoyed them
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. I agree Sherry - I find her books very comforting.